1. How would you describe yoga?
To me, yoga is a tool to make sense of the world, and of all the patterns we take on as humans with bodies, living and moving through each day. The practice of yoga, (of the asanas, of pranayama, of meditation), provides an opportunity to observe what has been digested and what is arising in ourselves. From my experience, this act turning the gaze inwards and listening is transformative. In that way, the practice of yoga is a practice of alchemy. The human ability to transform what we take in and turn it into loving creative energy.
2. How did you find your way to yoga?
Yoga has always been a deeply familial practice for me. When I was a teenager I unexpectedly lost some of my family members in a tragic accident. Amazingly, my family started going to yoga together. My mom, my dad, and even my older brother would come to Lila Yoga. I remember experiencing pain, release, connection, and love during those first classes. By moving my body through the asanas, I was able to process emotions that had been incredibly overwhelming. My practice became the container for me to safely inhabit my body. I learned a deep knowing and wisdom in my own spiritual and physical body that was incredibly empowering and connected to the people world around me. Now my practice of yoga still feels like a return home.
3. Who is your primary teacher right now?
I completed my 200-hour vinyasa-restorative training with Niki Coate at the Healing House in Cusco Peru. I still feel very influenced by Niki’s teachings. One of the most inspiring things about Niki is her presence and authenticity. She encourages all her students to sit with yoga teachings and connect with them in their own authentic way. From her guidance, I have learned that knowing and owning myself is the most powerful thing I can offer to someone in a yoga class and beyond.
4. What inspires you to keep teaching?
I am most inspired by moments where people feel empowered to be their true selves in connection with others. The world can seem very large sometimes and there are many forces that threaten to separate us from ourselves and each other. I hope to offer yoga as a tool for personal empowerment. As a teacher, I aim to provide space where anyone can explore and honor their unique mind, body, spirit connection. I hope to provide a space where the personal journey inward can inform and strengthen our connections to each other.
5. What is your practice like off the mat? How would you say you live your yoga?
One of the areas of yoga philosophy that I have been sitting with is the concept of Karma and Dharma. That is our karma, (our actions), lead us to our dharma, (our life purpose). As I make choices in my day, I try to hold the idea that I am a co-creator in how I experience the world. As difficult situations arise, I try to ask myself, how is this reaction in myself created for me and by me to help me on my life’s path?
Recently, I have been experimenting with how I attach meaning to my actions. I think I have sometimes struggled to feel like my actions have the power to make a difference. A small example of this is that I never used to make my bed. How was making my bed going to change anything – in my day? In the world?! Why would I not just chose the path of less effort and leave my bed messy? My yoga practice has recently shifted my perspective and I am tuning into the energetic change that happens when I make an active choice to honor myself by doing something even as small as making my bed. I am enjoying how good it feels to take myself and my actions seriously. This shift has empowered me in other areas of my life. My decision to not eat red meat and my decision to cut down on plastics are both choices that bring me closer to honoring myself and my place in the world.
6. Do you have a routine or ritualistic way to starting each day? If so, please describe.
Meditation! Holy Moly it has changed my life! I try my best to start off every day by meditating for 20-30 minutes in the morning. I find I wake up with a lot of internal dialogue around planning and judging, and the practice of meditation allows me to settle in and understand what is going on. It is different every day. Sometimes, I find I am really able to drop into my being and have a greater understanding of who I am and what is driving me. Then other days I find myself daydreaming am a witch from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina! Wherever my mind is, I have really enjoyed taking this part of my practice seriously and honoring myself by listening and trusting what I have to say.
7. What are some non-negotiables you have in your life right now to maintain balance and health in everyday living?
NATURE! I need nature in my life! I grew up in Portland and the ocean has always been a huge part of me. I think one of my favorite things to do is go for a walk on a winter beach. I think that some of the ways I have been socialized as a woman sometimes makes me feel like it is an extra effort to be in a public space. But in nature, I feel like a queen, an adventurer, and a creator. It is a source of replenishment and inspiration to me, for which I am always eternally grateful. This year my friend and I have a pact to go swimming in the ocean every month of the year!
8. What draws you to the Lila community?
What draws me to Lila is its non-judgmental environment and its encouraging community. I always feel like the teachers at yoga encourage everyone to come to their classes as they are. So much of what we experience in society can be focused on productivity and measuring success. For me, Lila is a haven where love and compassion are emphasized above all else.
9. If you would suggest one book to the community to read as an opportunity to deepen their learning on life, yoga, and all things, what would it be?
I would absolutely suggest everyone in the yoga community should read Radical Dharma! The book is written in the black prophetic tradition of Cornel West’s and bell hooks’ book Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life. The book is a conversation between three spiritual activists: Rev. angel Kyodo Williams, Lama Rod Owens and Jasmine Syedullah, Ph.D. The beautiful thing about this book is that it emphasizes both self-inquiry and healing as well as community action. Radical Dharma advocates meditative practices as a tool for social liberation but also confronts the need to address the white supremacy present in our spiritual communities. The book poses the needed questions: how are we recreating systems of oppression in our practices and what can we do to decolonize our spaces and methods. I think these are essential lines of inquiry that we must sit with in order to fully embody our practices.